Breaking the Toys

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Tropes and genres
Related tropes/genres42-Minute Reset, Reset Button, Episode Tag, Fix-it
See alsoDream Season
Related articles on Fanlore.

Breaking the Toys is the opposite of hitting the reset button. It involves changing the characters or world to such a degree that any return to the status quo is impossible. It most often refers to long-running serial fandoms, where a return to the status quo at the end of every episode is the usual state of affairs.

In Canon

Many canons never or only very rarely break the toys, although canons referred to as grimdark are more likely to.

Some canons are notorious for using the 42-Minute Reset a lot, such as Alias and the Stargate franchise, but other canons are more inclined to break the toys for long periods or permanently, such as:

  • Angel the Series - although it did resurrect characters and has one big reset, in both cases this had nasty consequences downstream.
  • Farscape - permanent main character deaths, long-term issues with a doppelganger character, main character staying mentally compromised and drug-addicted for long periods, bad guys turning into (self-sacrificing, heroic, in some cases) allies
  • Breaking Bad
  • A Song of Ice and Fire - even with important characters, dead is dead—unless they come back as much-less-fun zombies.
  • BoJack Horseman delights in destroying any sense of status quo, particularly regarding personal relationships. Most of the relationships broken or ruined stay that way, save for the ones eventually salvaged by characters' personal growth and willingness to admit their wrongdoings.

In Fandom

Stories usually jump off from canon, taking events to a more logical or realistic conclusion than The Powers That Be dare. They are often fairly long, and generally gen or Bob (Making the Toys Fuck is not breaking the toys), with a focus on worldbuilding.

"I'm very fond of the Wildly Epic Adventures That Couldn't Be Canon Because They Break The Toys.

Er, not the deathfic iteration of that, but the "What if there was a giant epic novel about how they killed off the Goa'uld forever for real and actually genuinely got to retire to a nice planet" or "Hey, what if Wonder Woman had to go on the run and do heroing secretly because no one figured out that one time she appeared to go evil was mind control" or "What if the curse was never broken and he stayed a werewolf forever and it was awesome" sort of thing." ~Greybard.[1]

"Yes, exactly! The stuff that would never happen in canon because it would end things the authors don't want ended, but which is absolutely fabulous. That's my favorite." ~Esmenet in response to above[2]


  1. ^ Greybard in comments of post about gen at hradzka's DW, 23 January 2012 (accessed 14 February 2012).
  2. ^ Esmenet in response to above at hradzka's DW, 24 January 2012 (accessed 14 Feburary 2012).